Updated Oct 24, 2019; Posted Oct 24, 2019 Jeff Goldman | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
A solar panel company with a history of aggressive and misleading door-to-door sales tactics has agreed to pay a $122,00 penalty and change its ways, authorities said.
Utah-based Vivint Solar Developer said it will train employees not try to trick customers by promising savings it couldn’t deliver and agreed that it will go to arbitration to resolve future disputes, the state’s Division of Consumer Affairs (DCA) announced Tuesday.
Consumer affairs received complaints from homeowners in New Jersey that Vivint lured them in with low price quotes that were inaccurate. Vivint went on to obtain credit reports without permission, provided poor service and didn’t properly install the panels, authorities alleged. The contracts customers signed also allegedly contained confusing language.
Vivint also promised to uninstall solar panels free of charge for more than a dozen unhappy customers.
The company on Thursday denied the allegations in the state’s order.
Vivint paid the the division of consumer affairs $121,952.53, of which $69,300 represents civil penalties. Another $35,168.78 will go to reimburse consumer affairs for investigative costs and attorneys’ fees. Finally, two customers will get a total of $17,483.75 in restitution.
“Vivint portrayed itself as an affordable alternative for New Jersey consumers looking to lower their energy bills, but sales reps allegedly misled consumers about solar energy contracts and failed to provide essential information that would have allowed consumers to make informed decisions,” acting Director of Consumer Affairs Paul R. Rodríguez said. “This settlement not only holds Vivint accountable for harm suffered by a significant number of New Jersey consumers, it puts measures in place to help ensure that Vivint abides by our consumer protection laws in the future.”
Vivint said in a statement: “Although we deny the allegations in the consent order, we are grateful to have resolved the [DCA’s] concerns after a thorough investigation. We will continue to work to be a positive and constructive force in the industry, delight our customers, and be a good corporate citizen.”